A commentary by Monika Rajska-Wolińska, Managing Partner of Colliers in Poland
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digitisation processes at an unprecedented scale and pace. As a result, a variety of modern tools for businesses have been developed that will not only help us go through these turbulent times, but also make our organisations more resilient to unforeseen situations.
The events unfolding last year have made many of us aware of the enormous impact of modern technology and organisational readiness on effective business operations. To tell the truth, many companies had not been prepared for what we have been dealing with for the last few months, both in terms of organisational culture and procedures and work tools. Obviously, some things could not have been predicted, but access to certain tools may enable organisations to adapt to the new normal. Today new technologies can help most in that.
As an advisory company, we had to quickly react to market needs and the situation that many of our clients found themselves in. To that end, we have introduced a range of services and tools to help companies navigate through the new reality as well as better and more effectively respond to emerging challenges and crises. This particularly concerns our everyday working environment – the office. It is a very important space for every company and at the same time part of their strategies, being high on the list of overheads. This is why it is essential to accurately define one’s space needs.
Effectively manage your office
Some of the tools which will revolutionise the management of office space are mobile building applications. They are the future. Until recently, few buildings in Poland have offered them, and most often they were systems developed with newly implemented projects in mind. Colliers is trying to change that by promoting widespread adoption of the tool, also for existing buildings. In spring last year, we introduced Office App on the Polish market, which is an innovative tool whose implementation had been preceded by thorough analysis of the global PropTech market. The application includes nearly 70 features, such as mobile access to the office, navigating within its space, registering guests, access to services including payments, as well as booking conference rooms, hot desks and parking places. The scope of system operation is defined individually based on tenants’ needs and the property’s technical capability, as well as tailored to the client’s strategy.
Such application not only streamlines office management, but, above all, ensures safety, which is particularly appreciated by employees today. With wireless connectivity, the application enables both employees and guests to contactlessly enter the office. For potentially dangerous events, e.g. fire risk or introduction of emergency procedures related to the epidemic, the employees working in the building will receive relevant notifications to their smartphones, for current and future reference.
Be flexible and mobile
The pandemic has shown that companies must be flexible and always ready for changes because there is constant risk of events that may limit our mobility and business activity or force quick reorganisation. Empty offices have been one of the most apparent symbols of the pandemic. Some companies have downsized their teams, others have suspended their growth plans, while the majority have undertaken efforts to optimise spending. The office is high on the list, therefore organisations should reconsider how to best adjust their working models to the needs of their teams and business strategies.
We can expect that traditional office work will not return in the form that we have got used to. Instead, companies will rather develop hybrid lease models tailored to their needs in order to provide employees with more freedom to choose their workplaces and, most of all, ensure greater flexibility for enterprises to manage their office assets. Flex spaces will become integral elements of corporate strategies and will complement the traditional head offices subject to long-term lease. Bearing this in mind, we have developed Colliers Mobility Pass. This innovative solution ensures unlimited, flexible access to workplaces across the world. With a user-friendly mobile application, we can reserve space in more than 5,000 coworks in 70 countries, including more than 60 in Poland. All this is covered by a single subscription fee and invoice, the value of which depends on the time and number of employees for whom we would like to lease the space. Anyone can use the service: small businesses and large corporations, startups, or freelancers.
The flexibility of Colliers Mobility Pass is reflected not only in easy management of office assets, but also in the multiple opportunities offered to employees. A manager on a business trip, who for some reasons gets stuck in another country, does not have to work from the hotel, which is far from comfortable, but instead can freely use an office within the cowork available in the given city. The mobility offered by Colliers Mobility Pass provides new opportunities also when it comes to working comfortably from all corners of the world, in particular when we have multinational and geographically dispersed teams.
Design your own work environment
The COVID-19 pandemic has made us redefine our working models and think about the future of office space. One thing is certain – the office is here to stay, but what it will look like and how it will operate remains an open question. Every company should address this issue individually. In response to such market needs, we have developed Workplace Expert, another innovative tool. It allows for creating recommendations concerning various office environments and their configuration based on answers to questions about working habits, objectives and culture in the individual organisations.
Our goal was to help them make the first step towards developing a strategy concerning planning the future of work environment and its optimisation in such a way so as to meet the needs of the given organisation and its employees. Workplace Expert leverages vast amounts of benchmark data, insights from global research conducted by Colliers throughout the pandemic, as well as latest market trends. It enables initial verification of strategy and generating data on the work model and office space needs so as to make the new environment become a tool supporting the given company’s business objectives. In addition to recommendations concerning a specific model of office environment, the tool provides guidelines on office size and the required number of workstations and functional areas.
Colliers Mobility Pass, Office App and Workplace Expert will be useful not only during the pandemic. These are the tools which will enable companies to find themselves in the new post-covid normal, which requires, more than ever before, flexibility, planning and effective management of an organisation’s assets.